© 2010 Halifax Canoe Club Ltd, Greenups Mill, Wharf Street, Sowerby Bridge

Registered Company No 2612775

Home.About Us.News.Events List.Competition.Trips Reports.Links.Forum.Club Policies.

Heading off to North Wales for a weekend of Four Star Training, a little rain was what we wanted (and was forecast) to make sure we could get on some rivers. And we certainly got some rain - but more about that later.

What’s BCU Four Star all about? Well it’s a leadership award, qualifying people to take others on grade 2 rivers. So training is basically about looking at and working on personal skills on grade 2 – 3 rivers, and learning how to lead groups on a river trip. This weekend was the first time that we have offered training for the Four Star award since the changes to the awards came in two years ago. So a team of ten rolled up at a bunkhouse near Bala to meet trainers Andy and Nigel. Plus Cliff and Les were in tow to observe and help run the course.

With the forecast rain not arriving on Friday night, we headed off to Mile End Mill on Saturday, where the Dee provides a reliable water and features, plus a trip up the canal gives the option of paddling back down to the Mill via Serpents Tail. And with the gauge at 3½ (remember that number for later!) it was ideal for what we needed.

After being mugged for raffle tickets and a quick chat about kit it was onto the river. One group headed off up the canal for the river trip, while our group stayed at the Mill to look at personal skills.  Two hours of breaking in and out, ferry gliding and surfing waves later and it was lunchtime - a good couple of minutes of which I spent watching some-one getting a good spanking in the grippy stopper come play wave!

After lunch we headed up the canal, but unlike the other group we actually paddled! (although I hear Russ had a close encounter with a rubber duck award, he nearly slipped in the canal while towing his boat - more details / photos are needed!)

Back on the river, it was leadership time with each of the group getting the chance to have a go at leading the rest. This was interrupted by Serpents Tail rapid - imagine the whole of the river Dee being channelled through a relatively narrow gap of a couple of metres and throw in steeper gradient and you have a cracking rapid. Clearly not a grade 2 then, but the Four Star require you to be able to run sections of grade 3, and this was top end 3 (or maybe 4?). Still no problems in our group, but there may have been some out of boat experiences in the other group?

Carrying on there were more leadership opportunities to be had on the way back to the Mill.

Back at the bunkhouse, lots of carb’s are just what you need after a hard day on the river. ‘Pasta a la ford’ was just the ticket – even if all 18 of us couldn’t defeat the pasta mountain!

About Midnight Saturday the forecast rain arrive, seemingly bringing with it the rest of the rain that has been missing for the last six weeks!

So Sunday morning (still in driving rain) we headed up the A5 to go to the Llugwy. On the drive it was clear the rivers were up.

As the drive went on it was clear the rivers were so ‘up’ that it might be a problem.

And then the it became clear that a paddle down the road might be on -  there was a good grade 2 on the A5, while the upper sections of the Llugwy were going like a train! (There had been 2 inches of rain in about 12 hours!)

Plan B get on the bottom half of the river. Changed and unloaded we got to the river, but decided to have a walk along the banks first. Good idea - chocolate brown and thundering through the trees is the best description! After much chin rubbing it was time to walk away.

Plan C - back to Mile End Mill where the nice ‘playful’ 3½ on the gauge was now just below 10 (that’s up 65cm!) but it wasn’t raining anymore!.

Again the other group went up the canal for the full trip, while our team stayed in the Mill section for more leadership practice - and more personal skills practice too as the river was now a big volume grade 2 –3 and a totally different river to the previous day. Not to mention a stream of sizable branches and logs passing through!

An hour and a half later when we next passed the gauge  and yes it’s up again now just under 14 - so that’s another 40cm up - the ideal time to head down to the (now large) bottom wave for a play!

Coming back past the gauge on the way to get off and it was just visible and reading 15! - definately time to exit river right!.

Cake, coffee and a debrief wrapped the weekend up. Time to head home and start drying out!